The cat seems to be out of the bag that current television studio analyst Bobby Valentine is a candidate for the vacancy in Cleveland. I will quickly say that I think this is terrific news. Bobby Valentine is the type of person who can inspire some fire in an organization that desperately needs it.
A quick look back on his track record is also uplifting. Valentine last managed in the bigs (in American) from 1996 to 2002 as skipper of the New York Mets. Despite the infamous fake moustache/clubhouse attendant look, he guided the Mets to great times. The team peaked in 2000 by winning their first NL Pennant since 1986, but fell to the defending champion New York Yankees in the World Series. During Valentine’s time in New York, the Mets made two NLCS appearances and finished above .500 in all of his full seasons except for 2002.
Valentine also managed the Texas Rangers from 1985-1992, which was certainly no easy task at the time. The Rangers quickly became a competitive team by finishing above .500 in four of his five full seasons in Arlington. This was no easy feat given the Rangers rocky history up until that point.
Furthermore, anybody who manages a team to the World Series with an outfield consisting of mashers such as Jay Payton, Derek Bell, Benny Agbayani, and Timo Perez, ranks high up on my managerial wish-list.
Bobby has also become somewhat of a cult figure in Japanese baseball lore. After quickly leading the dubious Chiba Lotte Marines to a championship in 2005 (during his second managerial stint with the organization), Valentine was back into the public scope. The Marines has not won a pennant in thirty years, a large drought for a league without a high number of teams. Valentine became a fan favorite in Japan, but not necessarily a favorite of the upper managemtn within the organization. This is depicted in more detail in the documentary, “The Zen of Bobby V.”
I think Bobby Valentine can bring useful, veteran leadership to a club that lacks a clubhouse leader on the active roster. Valentine will also undoubtedly provide some great moments with the media…think Jim Leyland in 2006. That worked out pretty well for Detroit, yes? If only this situation could be as successful…